Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > A Tomb with a View: Constructing Place and Identity in the Funerary Monuments of Hellenistic Anatolia

This dissertation examines the roles of place, identity, and self-definition in the royal tombs of the independent Anatolian kingdoms of Galatia and Pontos during the 4th-1st centuries BCE. After the unprecedented military conquests of Alexander the Great, Anatolia played host to a myriad of cultural traditions disseminated by Alexander’s army. In a struggle to maintain sovereignty, these smaller Anatolian kingdoms appropriated hybrid forms of material culture – projecting Persian, Greek, local Anatolian, and Roman cultural identities – to articulate their relationships to the rapidly changing power structures within the larger Greek and Persian empires. Building on recent scholarship that stresses the significance of topography and material culture in shaping identity, I argue that the funerary architecture of ancient Anatolian elites reflected, shaped, and participated in the shifting political landscape of the Mediterranean during the Hellenistic period. Because the royal tombs of Galatia and Pontos are not well-documented, a significant portion of this dissertation makes innovative use of digital interpretive tools, generating a series of GIS-based maps, viewshed analyses, and SketchUp reconstructions in order to provide an accessible means of understanding the physical context and visual features of these tombs. Using GPS- and GIS-based analytical tools allows for an investigation that makes use of "place-based" theoretical approaches in archaeology, which prioritize the ways in which power, identity, and meaning are constructed within a topographical framework. Through this "place-based" approach, I explore how the topographical contexts of the royal necropoleis in Galatia and Pontos were manipulated for socio-political purposes: each necropolis' situation within a meaningful place amplified the ideological charge of the monuments by structuring socio-political appeals to different viewers. Finally, this project explores the cultural identities expressed in each monument, complicating narratives of "Hellenization" that have been construed for the political patrons of these tombs. I argue that the complex array of cultural signifiers presented in the royal Galatian and Pontic necropoleis appealed to a wide range of viewers, simultaneously communicating broad political claims and subtly distinguishing the kings' position according to a privileged, elite dialogue.